November 6, 2014

How to Use Website Analytics to Measure “Awareness”

As a Libra and an oldest child, I like rules to be clear and decisions to be objective.

I always struggled with the fuzzy goal of “raising awareness” that came along with most of my nonprofit jobs. If a nonprofit raised awareness and no one measured it… did it really happen?

The good news is that we can now use a free tool like Google Analytics to identify some markers of increased “awareness.” Imagine saying something like, “I know we raised awareness because…”

  • Our website had more visitors
  • More people are finding our website by searching our organization’s name
  • More people are finding our website by searching for our unique issue
  • More peer organizations are linking to our website
  • Our organization was mentioned in the news

If you haven’t yet installed Google Analytics on your website, wait no longer! Google Analytics is the perfect storm of web tools: data-driven, powerful, and free to use.The tool can be a bit overwhelming at first. If you would like a quick jumpstart, download my free training: Get Started with Google Analytics for Your Nonprofit Website.

Here’s how to find this information in your own Google Analytics account.

“Our website had more overall visitors”

Navigate to Audience >> OverviewNavigate to Audience >> Overview

This page includes information about how many people visited your site. A “user” represents a person, and a “session” represents how many times all users visited your site. The same “user” might have multiple “sessions” if they visit your site more than once.

If you’re successfully raising awareness, the number of sessions/users should increase.

“More people are finding our website by searching our organization’s name”

“More people are finding our website by searching for our unique issue”

(Tip: You’ll have to enable Google Webmaster Tools to view this information.)

Navigate to Acquisition >> Search Engine Optimization >> Queries

Navigate to Acquisition >> Search Engine Optimization >> Queries

This page gives you a high-level overview of the terms that users searched to find your website. Google Analytics no longer gives us a long list of detailed search terms, so we make do with this overview list.

You can monitor the impressions for terms such as your organization’s name, executive director’s name, or your unique issue.

If you’re successfully raising awareness, the number of impressions for those specific terms should increase.

“More peer organizations are linking to our website”

“Our organization was mentioned in the news”

Navigate to Acquisition >> All Referrals

Navigate to Acquisition >> All Referrals

This page lists all the sites that are sending visitors to your site via a link. You’ll see social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You will also see sites such as funders, local government, and blogs.

You can monitor the total number of peer organizations that are sending visitors to your site. You can also scan the list for important news sources such as a local television station or a national newspaper.

If you’re successfully raising awareness, you should see an increase in the number and the quality of organizations and news sources that are linking to your website.

These are a few ideas to get you started. Your nonprofit is a unique snowflake, and you’ll develop your own special mix of “awareness” metrics.

What other website metrics can help your specific nonprofit measure “awareness”? Tell me in the comments.

Like what you're reading?
Sign up to receive the latest articles and updates on nonprofit tech from NTEN and its community of experts.

Subscribe

Yesenia Sotelo
Yesenia Sotelo is a web developer and nonprofit nerd. She has been building and growing nonprofit websites since 2001. As the founder of SmartCause Digital, she helps nonprofit staff do their best work by providing them with the right online tools and the right strategies for their organization’s capacity and culture. She serves as an approachable, expert resource that can answer all your questions about web technology, strategies for online fundraising, data security and anything that could affect your organization’s online presence.